Monday, November 16, 2009

The Shroud of Secrecy

This weekend, my brother was a vendor at a local woodworking expo. As a show of moral support, I stopped by to see him. As I made my way through the crowd (and it was surprisingly crowded), I stopped to admire all sorts of beautiful, one-of-a-kind works of art.

In the far corners of the room, I noticed large groups of people gathered to listen to what other hobbyists and professionals had to say about perfecting finishes or more precise saw cuts. All those folks recognized there was information out there to help them do what they do better. They embraced the opportunity to learn.

One day during the week past, I presented a mini workshop at a nearby school district. The crowd was respectful and listened politely. When we broke out into groups, a teacher asked me, “Did our administrators tell you we don’t know how to teach reading?”

This question left me dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say.

This is not the first time I have met a teacher suspicious of a professional development initiative. Instead of learning being an opportunity, it is an insult. They are curiously suspicious, loathe to admit that there might be gaps or things that they don’t know about teaching.

The woodworkers reminded me that we all have things to learn about our craft. Just like they don’t attend seminars because they are incapable of creating beautiful things out of wood, teachers don’t attend professional development because they don’t know how to teach children.
Beautiful, one-of-a-kind works of art are the culmination of study, practice, and reflection. If we want a masterpiece, we’ve got to embrace every opportunity to learn.

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